baby blues

The Myth of the Superhero Mom

Have you noticed? From the moment you step foot into the threshold of motherhood, it is similar to what one might imagine it feels like to walk into a high-temperature pressure cooker. From the exhaustion of pregnancy and all it’s accompanying symptoms, learning to breastfeed and getting your baby to sleep, all the way through to the sheer madness of wrangling small children; despite the super-ness it requires to do all of these incredible things, we still somehow feel we don't measure up. 

Social media is great at keeping us feeling socially connected in an otherwise isolating season of life, but it also presents a bit of a false perception of what the realities of motherhood are really like. The whimsically filtered Instagram posts and status updates about epic days spent at the beach, often fail to mention the tears, tantrums, and chaos that surrounded those events. 

Are we really all who we say we are, who we strive to be, what we hope the world sees us as? Does it really matter? Perhaps what we see, what we are inundated with, and the representations of ourselves that we work so hard to portray, is somewhat of a myth; that under the beauty is madness, and just maybe, we aren’t alone down there. 

Oh, there are magical moments in motherhood, there is no doubt; like meeting your baby for the first time, hearing the uttering of first words, watching them crawl, walk, run, hearing them learn a new instrument or perform their first recital, watching their face light up as they unwrap a present, teaching them to ride a two wheeled bike; it is an incredible thing to be a witness of all new experiences and memorable moments of childhood, and these experiences should be celebrated, posted, shared, liked, loved - these are wonderful, incredible moments we experience everyday. 

But Motherhood is a chaotic balance of wonderful and treacherous, and you aren't alone in the trenches. 

Despite the huge task of parenthood; the incredible responsibility of caring for one, two, three or more lives besides our own, we carry on. We may do so in our pyjamas, wearing yesterdays mascara, eating someone else's half-eaten peanut butter toast, but we wake up every day and do it again, and that makes us Superheros. 

Maybe Superhero Mom doesn't wear a cape...perhaps she wears an apron that's covered in dirty little handprints and globs of dried oatmeal. She's juggling work emails in one hand, and turning on Paw Patrol with the other, while the doorbell rings for the second time - it's the pizza guy. She makes space in her bed at night to hug a scared toddler, and her superhero husband might slip away to the other room so everyone can sleep a bit better. I think Supermom probably yells too much, loves herself too little, and gives everything she has and never feels like it's ever enough. She probably drinks more than the recommended amount of coffee, and may even indulge in a little wine from time to time. She takes holiday's at the dentist, and finds respite in aisles of the grocery store, alone, at night. She is amazing because she simply is; she is doing the daily grind, giving all that she's got and hoping it covers all of her shortcomings, because being a Superhero is really, really hard. 

Motherhood is a beautiful mess that we don’t need to sweep out the backdoor, and perhaps needs to be shared with greater transparency, whether by social-media-selfie or over strong coffee with your also-exhausted next door neighbour. Why? Because we need one another; we can't be Superhero mom's without a superhero posse, so let’s stop pretending, and start being us, together.

The picture below was candidly taken by my oldest; its my youngest and myself in a pile of unfolded laundry, in all the our daily real-ness, with absolutely nothing to prove. 

What You Need To Know About Postpartum Depression

Awareness about postpartum depression and postpartum mood disorders is becoming more prevalent, and for good reason. 10-15% of women will suffer from some form of Postpartum Mood Disorder sometime in the weeks, up to the first year, following the birth of their baby. Some of the risk factors for postpartum depression include a personal or family history of depression, a previous experience with postpartum depression with another child, stressful life circumstances during pregnancy and/or after your birth, having a baby with health issues, struggles with breastfeeding, or a lacking support system. Even without these risk factors, the physical affects of the drop in hormones after birth, sleep deprivation, and the emotional adjustment to life with a new baby can all play a part, making any woman at risk for PPD regardless of circumstance or history. 

Knowing the symptoms of this common issue will not only help you become more aware of how you may be coping during postpartum, but also to realize signs and symptoms in new mothers around you; after all: it takes a Village, in all respects of raising a child. The good news is, PPD is manageable and treatable through counselling, medication, and support.

Below are the different postpartum mood disorders to look out for:

Baby Blues

The hormones that were once strong and active as you grew your child, drastically plummet after birth. Baby blues can sometimes be described as a very intense PMS experience, causing you to be teary and emotional, anxious, sad, and irritable. Baby blues usually peaks around day 4 or 5, can last a few hours or days, and generally subsides around 2 weeks postpartum.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression symptoms can occur at any point after delivery, but typically emerge within the first weeks-3 months after delivery, and at any point during the first year of your baby's life. Symptoms include depression feelings or sadness, tearfulness, a disinterest in everyday activities, strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness, excessive tiredness and interrupted sleep, a loss of appetite, weakened ability to concentrate, or suicidal thoughts. Panic attacks or persistent anxiety may accompany depressive symptoms. 

Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Symptoms of Postpartum OCD usually involve intrusive, repetitive thoughts that are negative in nature. These thoughts will often appear out of nowhere, and can be persistent and frightening. Other symptoms include irrational thoughts related to the new baby, fear based compulsions such as obsessive cleaning, repeatedly checking to see if baby is safe and breathing, counting, reorganizing, or any other compulsive actions that are out of character for the mother. The mother may take extreme precautions to keep her newborn safe, which is usually accompanied by fear of being left alone to care for the infant. 

Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety is characterized by pervasive thoughts that don't come and go like typical fears or worries usually do. Symptoms include irrational thoughts that something terrible is going to happen, extreme vigilance to protect baby, or avoidance of certain situations for fear of what may happen. Physical symptoms may also be present, including queasiness or stomach ache, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, loss of appetite, or sleepiness 

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is rare, and usually presents itself quickly after birth, within 24-48 hours, up to 2 weeks postpartum. Signs of psychosis include a dramatic onset of manic behaviours such as extreme depressive or elated feelings, erratic behaviour or delusional thoughts about the baby, disorientation, or auditory hallucinations suggesting harm to either the infant or the mother. 

 

Local Resources:

Mental Health Services, Courtenay: 250.331.8524

Public Health, Courtenay: 250.331.8520

 

Crisis Line and Phone Counselling:

Vancouver Island, 24 Hour Crisis Line: 1.888.494.3888

Pacific Postpartum Support Society: 1.855.255.7999

 

Web Resources:

Postpartum Depression, Online Screening Test: Here To Help

Post Partum Progress